Memantine is the first and only representative of a new class of Alzheimer drugs – a moderate affinity NMDA-receptor antagonist. Memantine is a derivative of the decades old anti-influenza drug amantadine.
Memantine is used in Germany to treat Parkinson's disease, dementia in the elderly, and to speed the recovery of comatose patients. Memantine may also be useful for PWAs with HIV encephalopathy (which can mean anything including memory loss, confusion, difficulty speaking, walking, and/or concentrating). Memantine produces symptomatic improvements in learning under conditions of tonic NMDA receptor activation in Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast to first generation therapies, memantine is likely to show neuroprotective effects at concentrations used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and to slow down disease progression.
Memantine’s action differs from the mechanism of the cholinesterase inhibitors that were previously approved in the United States for treatment of Alzheimer symptoms. Cholinesterase inhibitors temporarily boost levels of acetylcholine, another messenger chemical that becomes deficient in the Alzheimer brain.
Namenda (memantine HCl) is the first of a new class of medications for Alzheimer's disease with a mechanism of action distinct from currently available drugs. Namenda is a low to moderate affinity NMDA (N-methyl-D- aspartate) receptor antagonist. It is thought that overexcitation of NMDA receptors by the neurotransmitter glutamate may play a role in Alzheimer's disease since glutamate plays an integral role in the neural pathways associated with learning and memory. The excitotoxicity produced by abnormal levels of glutamate is thought to be responsible for neuronal cell dysfunction and the eventual cell death observed in Alzheimer's disease. Namenda is thought to selectively block the excitotoxic effects associated with abnormal transmission of glutamate, while allowing for the physiological transmission associated with normal cell functioning.
Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It is believed that too much stimulation of nerve cells by glutamate may be responsible for the degeneration of nerves that occurs in some neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Like other neurotransmitters, glutamate is produced and released by nerve cells in the brain. The released glutamate then travels to nearby nerve cells where it attaches to a receptor on the surface of the cells called the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. Memantine blocks the receptor and thereby decreases the effects of glutamate. It is thought that by blocking the NMDA receptor and the effects of glutamate, memantine may protect nerve cells from excess stimulation by glutamate.
Chemical name 1-amino-3,5-dimethyltricyclo[3,3,1,13,7]decane hydrochloride
CAS No. 41100-52-1
Molecular formula C12H21N.HCl